[Image] Key trio recalled, Pepe misses out: My Arsenal line-up vs Villarreal

By on April 29, 2021

Arsenal take on Villarreal in Spain in the first leg of our Europa League semi-final this evening. This is the team I’d like to see Mikel Arteta select for the match…

Bernd Leno made a catastrophic error for the Everton goal at the weekend but he should still keep his place in goal ahead of Mat Ryan tonight.

Kieran Tierney could be back in contention after making a swift recovery from a knee injury. It’s not clear exactly how fit he is but Tierney was able to train yesterday and I’d risk him. It’s not like we’ve got much left to play for in the league, so this game is the priority.

David Luiz is also back in contention and Gabriel is pushing for a recall but I’d stick with Pablo Mari alongside Rob Holding in the middle of the Arsenal back four as they’ve forged an excellent partnership together.

Hector Bellerin appears to have lost the first team shirt at right-back with Calum Chambers now the preferred option and it’s hard to argue that Chambers doesn’t deserve to keep his place tonight.

If Tierney returns at left-back it will free Granit Xhaka to move back into midfield alongside Thomas Partey. Dani Ceballos would drop to the bench alongside Mohamed Elneny.

Auba & Odegaard return

Martin Odegaard is back after recovering from an ankle injury and I’d love to see him starting tonight as Arsenal have missed his creativity in recent weeks.

Bukayo Saka should obviously keep his place in attack and I’d go with Emile Smith Rowe as Arsenal’s third attacking midfielder. Nicolas Pepe and Gabriel Martinelli push him close but Smith Rowe gets the nod.

It’s going to be interesting to see who Arteta picks up front. Alexandre Lacazette is back after a minor hamstring injury and he impressed while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was out with malaria.

However, Auba is available again and I think it’s hard to leave him out for such a huge game. You have to go with your best goalscorers and an away goal could be crucial.

This would be my Arsenal line-up:

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